Free VST plugins are the easiest way to enhance your existing music production software setup with additional virtual instruments and effects.
There are hundreds of VST plugins on the market, and finding good ones takes time. To help you focus on making music instead of testing audio plugins, we listed the best free VST plugins for your digital audio workstation.
Scroll down to browse the plugins based on their category. Each category page features the best free plugins for a specific music production task.
The category pages are updated with the latest plugins multiple times per year. Be sure to check back from time to time and keep your free VST plugin collection up to date!
Free VST Plugins
Welcome to the internet’s most up-to-date directory of VST plugins.
Freeware effects in VST plugin format:
- Autotune – Free alternatives to Antares Auto-Tune.
- Bitcrusher – An extensive collection of freeware bitcrushers.
- Chorus – A selection of the best free chorus effects.
- Compressor – Dynamic range compressor VST plugins.
- Compressor (Multiband) – A collection of multi-band compressor effects.
- Compressor (Sidechain) – A collection of compressor effects with sidechain input.
- Delay/Echo – Add depth to your mix with these excellent freeware delay effects.
- Distortion – Distort and saturate your audio with these freeware plugins.
- EQ (Graphic) – Free graphic equalizers in VST format.
- EQ (Linear-Phase) – Linear-phase equalizers in the VST plugin format.
- EQ (Parametric) – Standard parametric equalizers for mixing and mastering purposes.
- Filter – A collection of filtering effects.
- Flanger – Free flanger VST effects.
- Gate (Noise Gate) – Freeware VST plugins for removing noise from recordings.
- Granulator – A collection of granular effects to really mess up your audio.
- Guitar Amp – Large collection of virtual guitar amplifier VST plugins.
- Limiter – Free limiter effects for mastering and mixing.
- Phaser – The best free phaser plugins.
- Reverb – Algorithmic reverb VST plugins.
- Reverb (Convolution) – Convolution reverb VSTs.
- Saturation – Free saturation VST plugins for that classic analog sound.
- Stereo Enhancer – Enhance the stereo separation in your mix with these freeware effects.
- Transient Shaper – Make the drums more prominent in a mix with these free transient shapers.
- Vocoder – Become the next Daft Punk with these free vocoder VST plugins.
A selection of free virtual instruments in VST plugin format:
- Drum Machine/Synth – Instruments for synthesizing and sequencing drum sounds.
- Organ – A collection of free organ instruments in VSTi plugin format.
- Piano (Acoustic) – Free VST plugins that emulate acoustic pianos.
- Piano (Electric) – Virtual instruments that emulate electric keyboards.
- Sampler – The best freeware VST plugins for audio samples.
- Sound Module/Workstation – A round-up of virtual instruments that function as romplers.
- SoundFont Player – If you’re feeling old school, load your old SF2 files with these free plugins.
- String Machine – A collection of string ensemble instruments. Jean Michel Jarre will love these!
- Synthesizer – Best free synthesizer VST plugins.
- Synthesizer (Retro) – Emulated vintage synthesizers.
Other useful freeware VST plugins:
- Arpeggiator – A collection of freeware arpeggiator VST plugins.
- Oscilloscope – Free oscilloscope tools.
- Spectrum Analyzer – Visualize your mix with these freeware spectrum analyzers.
- Step Sequencer – Sequence your virtual instruments with these freeware step sequencers.
VST Host Applications
A selection of free audio editors, digital audio workstations, and other applications that host VST plugins:
- Audio Editing Software – Audio editing programs that can host VST plugins.
- Beat Making Software – Make beats on your computer.
- Digital Audio Workstations – The best free DAW software.
- Free Recording Software – Record high-quality audio with these free tools.
- Mastering Software – Freely downloadable VST plugins for mastering.
- Music Production Software – The best free music-making tools for beginners.
- Video Editing Software – Edit your music videos for free.
- VST Host Applications – Directory of VST plugin hosts for music production and live performance.
What Are Free VST Plugins?
In case you’ve never used audio plugins before, chances are you’re facing a question. What are VST plugins?
A VST plugin is a software-based audio effect or a virtual instrument intended for use in a host program that supports Virtual Studio Technology.
Introduced by Steinberg in 1996, the Virtual Studio Technology and VST plugins made a massive impact on the way we produce music today. The technology allows music producers to expand their digital audio workstations with third-party audio effects and virtual instruments.
Nowadays, most digital audio workstations can load plugins in VST2 format, as well as the more recent VST3 format.
VST plugins are used to expand a virtual music studio, much like how hardware effects and instruments are utilized in a real studio. There are literally thousands of VST plugins available for free download on the web.
In fact, there are so many free VSTs on the market that one can waste hours downloading and testing them instead of making music. For this reason, a curated list like this one will help you find the right music production tools more quickly.
How To Use VST Plugins for FREE?
Now that you know what a VST plugin is, here’s how you can use it to make music.
First things first, you will need a VST plugin host. That is a software program capable of loading virtual instruments and effects in VST format.
Choosing the right audio software and learning to use it properly will ensure an efficient workflow when producing music.
Therefore, make sure to familiarize yourself with the software available in your VST plugin folder. No one wants to use a complex plugin for the first time during a critical mixing session.
Step 1: VST Plugin Hosts
First of all, you need to choose the right digital audio workstation. The decision to use freeware or commercial music production software is up to you and your budget.
The first thing to keep in mind when choosing your DAW is the workflow. Is the interface intuitive? Does the control layout seem logical to you? Does the application provide all the recording and mixing features you’ll require? And most importantly, can it host VST plugins?
The best free digital audio workstations right now are Tracktion 7 and Cakewalk by BandLab. Both applications can load VST plugins.
Step 2: Downloading Free VST plugins
Now that you’ve picked your DAW, you’re all set to start building your collection of free VST plugins.
Always go for quality instead of quantity. A common beginner mistake is going on a download spree and hoarding hundreds of VSTs on your hard drive. This is bad for your workflow, and it will slow down your productivity.
Imagine for a moment that your DAW is a real-world studio. Would you be able to make music in a room cluttered with hundreds of dusty instruments, effects, broken tapes, disconnected audio cables, and other gear that no one will ever use?
You don’t want such a mess in your virtual studio, either.
Stay organized when choosing your virtual instruments and effects. This page is a great place to start because we listed only the best freeware VST plugins in each category.
What you need is a small but versatile collection of audio software that will cover all of your music production needs.
Take the time to examine the plugins on offer and keep only the ones that you really need. Keep your mixing toolbox lightweight and efficient. Limit yourself to no more than three virtual compressors, equalizers, synthesizers, etc.
Install only the tools that best suit your workflow and learn how to use them. Read the manuals, watch the video tutorials, and spend some time experimenting with your free VST plugins.
Step 3: Staying up to date
Finally, be sure to keep your plugins up to date. Developers often release updated versions of the software, including essential bug fixes and additional features. Keep an eye on our news section to stay informed about the latest updates of popular free VST plugins.
Also, consider subscribing to our email newsletter to receive the latest freeware news straight to your email inbox.
If you’re looking for even more freeware plugins for your DAW, check out the massive database over at KVR Audio.
Last updated: May 31, 2021.